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Actress's divorce description: You either get it or you don't

“Conscious uncoupling.”

That is the word choice employed by actress Gwyneth Paltrow recently to relate the news that she and her husband, rock star Chris Martin, are divorcing after a number of years. Paltrow and Martin have two children.

We don’t normally include much in the way of celebrity-related divorce articles in our blog, although we do occasionally cite a public figure in a post if the surrounding subject matter seems to command bona-fide relevance to our audience of family law readers.

Paltrow’s utterance arguably qualifies her for a brief name dropping, given that it has seemingly struck a nerve among divorce commentators.

Some people find the expression conscious uncoupling to be replete with affectation and something that only a privileged movie star might say. In a sense, it seems to skirt the realities of divorce.

Myriad marriage experts, divorce therapists and other writers on family law subjects have a decidedly different reaction, though. They point out that Paltrow’s term actually relates to a known divorce philosophy and that conscious uncoupling might be beneficially employed by many divorcing parties, especially couples who want to avoid acrimony and be role models to their kids following divorce.

In fact, conscious uncoupling sounds a lot like commonly employed techniques used in alternative dispute resolution, such as collaborative and mediated divorce.

The emphasis with those strategies, and with conscious uncoupling, is embracing the possibility of positive change through divorce, which is at least partly accomplished by seeking to be constructive and mutually encouraging throughout the divorce process.

In other words, civility over hostility when possible. Cooperation rather than conflict. Building lasting bridges for the divorcing family instead of burning them.

In Georgia, a divorcing party seeking to minimize the adversarial approach sometimes prevalent in a litigated divorce might profitably consider a more collaborative approach along the lines of mediated divorce or what Paltrow terms conscious uncoupling. A good place to start might be at the offices of a family law firm in which an experienced divorce attorney who is also a certified mediator practices.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Is ‘conscious uncoupling’ a better way to divorce?” Anya Sostek, March 29, 2014

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